Three debut novels this time and I have very mixed thoughts on them! First-time novelists are often very hyped and perhaps this hype is a little unfair. Novelists maybe need a bit of quiet to get everything sorted, to learn how to structure a compelling novel. Here though, there is one book I thought great, one was so-so and one I just cba with because life’s too short.
Book #6: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
The Tiger’s Wife won the Orange Prize in 2011 and I had high hopes for it. Obreht can write and I love her prose; it is beautiful without being overly long or wordy, but I feel like the novel needed more focus. I love learning about folk tales and myths from around the world and Balkan ones are covered here, but it doesn’t hang well enough together as a novel, for me. There is a lack of emotion when the protagonist deals with her grandfather’s death, there is a lot of backstory about the grandfather’s past but not enough information about the protagonists. I think my expectations were too high, but I look forward to seeing what Obhret writes next.
Book #7: Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
It’s interesting that I read this after The Tiger’s Wife because it is another hyped debut novel from a few years ago which I haven’t yet got around to. I remember reading that Toni Morrison loved it. And again, Selasi’s prose is magnificent, but this is a better novel than Obhret’s. There is also a lot of intelligence and understanding here. This is a story about how a family deals with the death of a father, Kweku, who left them, after he was fired from his job, sixteen years before. It’s a very well written book; it is evocative but not too descriptive and its characters act oddly, like real people.
Book #8: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
The residents of a mental ward have been effectively neutered by the evil Nurse Ratched. Lots of people love this book but I couldn’t get past the misogyny and just don’t feel like finishing it.